Top 7 Habits of Successful Government PMs and CORs
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Written by: Lisa Akers
I used to work for the government as a Program Manager and Contracting Officer Representative (PM/COR) at GSA FEDSIM. My role involved managing IT and Professional Services contracts for our client agencies. Even though I'm now a contractor, I'm still passionate about acquisition because it plays a crucial role in the success of many agency services.
I have a vivid memory of a Program Management Review for a DoD satellite communications program. One of the DoD engineers was surprised by my knowledge about the program and asked, "How does she know so much? I thought she was just the COR?" In my opinion, if the COR isn't informed, then who is?
As a COR, your responsibility is to ensure that the contractor performs according to the contract. You manage the contract's funding, review and approve invoices, request modifications, and handle the receipt, distribution, and feedback on deliverables.
Rather than listing the 17 responsibilities commonly mentioned in COR Appointment and Delegation memos, I want to propose the Top 7 Habits of Successful CORs. Let's see if you agree.
Plan and lead the Post-Award Orientation Meetings (kick-off meetings), involving all acquisition team members and stakeholders.
Familiarize yourself with the contract and maintain a good relationship with your Contracting Officer (CO/KO) to show that you actively manage contractor performance and keep them informed.
Share accountability and goals with your contractor. Avoid an "us versus them" mentality because contract success should be a shared objective.
Take charge of the Status Meetings instead of simply attending them.
Keep track of how government funds are being utilized through Technical Descriptions, Consent to Travel, and Consent to Purchase. Waiting for the invoice and burn rate is too late, as the money has already been spent.
Communicate frequently and directly with your contractor about their performance. This way, there are no surprises when it comes to the Award Fee or the Contractor Performance Assessment and Reporting System (CPARS).
Develop and implement a Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan (QASP) that adapts to the contract's lifecycle.
I understand that many overloaded CORs rely on program support contractors, but these top habits should still be the COR's responsibility.
A highly effective PM/COR can significantly influence the contract's outcome. It's crucial to ensure that you fulfill these important areas because the success of your contract may depend on your performance as the COR.
Now, I'd like to hear from you. What other top habits do you think I missed?
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Ms. Lisa Akers brings 25 years of proven Federal and Industry leadership experience, as well as extensive functional expertise in acquisition, program management, assisted acquisition shared services and business operations management. As Executive Vice President of Solutions at Seventh Sense Consulting (SSC), Ms. Akers is responsible for developing and delivering innovative solutions to meet client requirements and objectives. Prior to joining Seventh Sense Consulting, Ms. Akers served as President (2013- 2016) for ASI Government’s Products and Solutions Division where she was responsible for managing the Virtual Acquisition Office (VAO) used by 25,000 federal acquisition professionals and as President (2010 – 2013) for ASI’s Consulting Division that had a $35M portfolio focused on acquisition and program management support services to federal government agencies. Prior to joining ASI Government, Ms. Akers spent over 16 years in the General Services Administration, Federal Systems Integration and Management Center (GSA FEDSIM) where she was the FEDSIM Director for her last five years and Deputy Director for the previous four years. FEDSIM is an assisted acquisition organization specializing in large information technology and services acquisitions with $1.4B annual obligations on behalf of 100+ other federal agencies. Ms. Akers received the 2011 FED100 award for her work as Industry Lead for the ACT-IAC 25 Points to IT Acquisition Reform and the 2006 FED100 award for industry outreach and stakeholder management for the ALLIANT and ALLIANT SB GWACs. She received the Meritorious Service Award while at GSA. She holds a bachelor's degree in Microbiology from Pennsylvania State University, and a master's degree in Information Technology Systems from George Washington University.